My sister and I spent the better part of this week traversing the western United States on our drive home from a family reunion in Oregon. The timing of the reunion coincided with my mom’s 90th birthday. We all gathered outside of Bend, the city where she grew up.
My mom (aka Gracie) was born in Westbrook, MN in 1927. In 1931, when she was just four years old, she and her 3 siblings and her parents climbed into a Model A and headed west. Their destination was Bend, Oregon, where her father had accepted a call to be the pastor of the First Baptist Church.
Even though she was very young when she made the trip, she still has quite a few memories of the drive. One story she told us was of stopping at a “town” in the Oregon desert, east of Bend called Millican. “There was just one building,” she told us. “I remember it because we all thought it was so funny that a town would only have one building.”
On Monday, as my sister and I were driving across the Oregon desert (my mom and brother-in-law having left by plane earlier in the day), we were on the look-out for the one-building “town” of Millican. Sure enough, it was there, only the establishment that may or may not have been there in 1931 was definitely closed! Why it is listed on the map is a mystery.
And if you ever have the chance to drive across the desert of eastern Oregon, do it! It’s gorgeous!
We are back home now, and declare the two weeks of birthday celebrations officially over!
You may be tempted to think this blog post will be about my sister and I riding bucking broncos and rolling around an arena in barrels. You would be wrong.
Just over a week ago, on our road trip across Oregon, we pulled into the town of Sisters, Oregon just as the pre-rodeo parade was making its way through town. Sisters is a small cowboy town that sits at the foot of The Three Sisters, 3 volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range.
Instead of following the detour around the parad route and heading out of town, we decided to stop and enjoy a great slice of Americana.
I have the privilege this week of travelling around Oregon with my mom (aka Gracie), sister, and oldest niece. We’re visiting relatives and the towns where my mom grew up (Bend and Portland). It’s a ‘memory lane’ trip for my mom, and we get the benefit of hearing great stories of her childhood as each place jogs her memory.
Today we took a drive up the Columbia River Gorge with my cousins, stopping at the beautiful Multhomah Falls and then driving up to Crown Point to get a view of the river. This prompted her ‘story of the day””
“I remember coming here the day after World War II ended, ” she said. “The day after the Japanese surrendered, gasoline rationing ended. As soon as the news broke, my dad piled the family into the car, filled the tank up with gas (something we hadn’t been able to do for years) and we drove out to Crown Point and Multnomah Falls. Just because we could. ”
The scenery today was just as gorgeous as it would have been on that August day in 1945.